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Despite record-breaking snowfall in Sierra Nevada, experts say drought is still a concern

4 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Wednesday, December 29 2021 Dec 29, 2021 December 29, 2021 3:53 AM December 29, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

SIERRA NEVADA, California - Months of extreme drought triggered problems in California's Sierra Nevada over the summer, but as of Tuesday, the area has received over 202 inches of snow, nearly 17 feet, according to Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Laboratory.

Still, even this record-breaking amount of snowfall isn't quite enough to make up for this year's drought, experts say. 

According to CNN, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada accounts for 30% of California's fresh water supply in an average year, according to the California Department of Water Resources and the snowpack in the Sierra is still below the historical average.

For example, the Lake Oroville reservoir is only 37% full, in comparison with its typical average of 71% at this time of year. Due to its low water level, the Oroville hydroelectric power plant was forced to shut down this summer, a closure that hasn't occurred since the reservoir opened in 1967.

This summer's drought was the worst California has experienced in 126 years, with July 2021 marking the driest month since data gathering began in 1895. 

Then, October brought much-needed rain to the region.

But experts anticipate that as climate change accelerates and winter temperatures increase, snowfall will decrease. 

Scientists say climate change is not only increasing the severity of extreme weather, but it is interrupting the natural patterns, and causing wild swings between dry and wet extremes.

CNN reports that California has experienced "weather whiplash" in recent years as atmospheric river storms cause destructive floods one year and extreme drought causes water shortages the next.

According to experts, the Sierra Nevada's extreme drought despite record-breaking snowfall appears to be a grim example of the consequences of the climate crisis.

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